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“Simplicity and Celebration: An Appreciation of Count Basie” by Albert Murray
A Tale of Three Cities: Red Bank, Kansas City, New York
First Testament Band Roars Out of Kansas City
1938 Famous Door Photo Essay, Frank Driggs Collection
Basie in the 40's: Time of Transition
1944 Columbia Records Photo Essay, Frank Driggs Collection
Basie in the 50's: Sixteen Men Swinging-Again
Milt Hinton Photo Essay, Sound of Jazz, CBS Television, December 8,1957
Chuck Stewart Photo Essay: The Basie Band and Joe Williams, Roulette recording sessions, 1957
Chance meeting: The Count and Coltrane
Tad Hershorn Photo Essay: Ella Fitzgerald and Basie in San Antonio, 1979
Count Basie Virtual Jukebox
They Speak of Basie: Joe Williams, Freddie Green, Jay McShann, Oscar Peterson, Albert Murray, Helen Humes, Louie Bellson . . .
Suggested Recordings and Readings
Finale: Video of Count Basie at Montreux, 1977
 
 

 

IJS and Dana Digital Media Lab 2004

 

 
 
 

Nancy Miller Elliott (1940-1998) was not only an outstanding photographer but also one who defined herself in relation to jazz as a chronicler of musicians from the swing, mainstream and classic jazz traditions. A native of Hell’s Kitchen and decades-long companion of trumpeter Buck Clayton, Elliott frequently trained her lens on musicians associated with Kansas City from which Basie emerged as well as many veterans of the band through the years, including Basie himself occasionally. The warmth of the photographs in this digital portfolio confirms trumpeter Randy Sandke’s comment shortly after her death of cancer at 57 that she lived a musician’s life more than most musicians he knew.

Elliott’s first professional involvement around the music was as a production assistant for Art Ford’s Jazz Party, where her first subjects were Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Elliott’s work later appeared in magazines, album covers (for which she sometimes wrote liner notes) as well

Nancy Miller Elliot photographs Count Basie, July 1982.
 
 
 


as for publicity photographs. Her work was the centerpiece for the book Jazz Veterans (1996) with text by jazz critic and historian Chip Deffaa, who noted that Clayton and Elliott encouraged each other’s creativity. This extended to her helping to sustain Clayton’s writing, arranging and leading the Buck Clayton Swing Band big band during the last years of his life when he could no longer play; in turn, he reveled in her photography. Elliott was a moving force behind the trumpeter’s autobiography, Buck Clayton’s Jazz World (1987). In addition to her main focus on jazz musicians, Elliott frequently photographed New York’s poor and homeless and exhibited some of this side of her work in SoHo galleries and at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She knew many of the homeless on the city’s Lower East Side, volunteered at a soup kitchen and delivered food and, in a testament to her individual compassion, delivered food and clothing to people in need.

Elliott did not exclusively haunt the usual venues of jazz photographers. Rather, she strived to capture the spirit and humanity of jazz musicians away from the bandstand, often without their instruments, at home, on the streets of New York or in settings of her choosing that she thought would reveal their personalities. The result is a collection, donated after her death to the Institute of Jazz Studies, that looks like the scrapbook of her life with Buck Clayton and the parade of jazz and jazz musicians that populated her world up until she her health failed in the late 1990s.

This gallery, entitled Evening of the Basie-ites, is designed both as a tribute to the Count and his men but the artistry of Nancy Miller Elliott as well.

 

   

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